It was 2004 when York City first talked of upping sticks from Bootham Crescent, 2011 when finally they thought they’d be shifting.

Eight years further down the line and they’re still not removed from a rather run-down reality.

End of this season, they were assured, and they’d at last be on the road to an 8,000-capacity “community stadium” out of town at Monks Cross and to be shared with York City Knights, the Rugby League team.

So today’s column was envisaged as a valediction, a bye-bye Bootham, and there’s just one problem – the move’s been delayed yet again.

“Extremely disappointing,” say the Minstermen. “Frustrating,” says the Knights, with whom they now share an abode. Maybe September, says the City council.

The footballers have been there since 1932, moving from the Fulfordgate ground which in 1890 had been the only venue in York to stage a Yorkshire county cricket match, against Kent.

“There’s a lot of affection for Bootham Crescent but it hasn’t changed too much in all those years,” says Dave Flett, who for 15 years has covered City for the York Press.

The press box, he says, was built for notebooks not laptops – “you can’t always guarantee electricity” – the sight lines are often obscured, the toilets terrible.

“The place is falling to bits, it costs them thousands to patch it up every summer. Even at this level of the game, there are a lot better stadiums than City.”

Dave should count his blessings. In 1934, the match officials were found unconscious in their dressing room after a gas heater malfunctioned.

Four years later, a record 28,123 crowded in for an FA Cup tie against Huddersfield. The ref was unharmed.

In the 1998 edition of his classic Football Grounds of Great Britain, author Simon Inglis nonetheless noted that both football and rugby fans in York were “understandably suspicious” of moves to new, out-of-town stadiums, drawing a somewhat precarious analogy between Bootham Crescent and The Shambles, a mile across the city.

“Just like the football grounds of Great Britain, we delight in the quirkiness and would not want it different for all the world.”

For the City faithful, however, it may be too late to be careful what they wish for.

Few will more affectionately be remembered when finally Bootham Crescent is flattened than Norman Wilkinson, a £6.10 a week part-timer whose 143 goals in almost 400 appearances remains a club record.

Born near Alnwick, later adopted, Norman grew up in Annfield Plain, near Stanley, returned there every night and by day went to work as a cobbler.

Chiefly he turned down full-time terms because his adoptive father was unwell. “I couldn’t gan gallivantin’ aboot with the old man at home,” he once told the column.

In his first season, 1954-55, he was the youngest member of the side which famously drew an FA Cup semi-final with Newcastle United, having beaten Bishop Auckland (of all people) in the fourth round, Spurs in the fifth and Notts County in the sixth.

In retirement he still helped out his mate Jonty Raine in his cobbler’s shop at Crook, still sat at the receipt of custom – of which there was precious little – on the gate of Annfield Plain FC.

Lovely man, he died, aged 79, in 2011.

Long a Football League club, second division in the 70s, City are now in the Vanarama National League North – the sixth tier.

Last Saturday they’re at home to Altrincham, programme pages decorated with the banner “1932-2019 BC” which should not (of course) be taken to mean Before Christ.

Not even Bootham Crescent’s as antediluvian as that.

In the 1932 Club before the match, Martin Braidley, Mike Jones and Mike’s son Tom are having a pint – £3.80, York always was an expensive place for a pint. Home discomforts notwithstanding, they’ll miss the old ground – what football folk like to call a proper ground – when home becomes houses.

“It’s just totally familiar,” says Mike. “It’s little changed in the 40 years I’ve been coming here. All the same people stand in all the same places; we like standing.

“The stands are old, there are too many pillars are the toilets aren’t very good, but this ground has something about it.”

Martin, Boro boy originally but at York University in the early seventies, recalls taking a girlfriend to Bootham Crescent on their first date.

“It was a Monday night – freezing cold, pouring down, goalless draw. I asked her what she thought and she said it had been fantastic.

“We’ve been married 41 years. I knew she was the girl for me.”

Much the most memorable of the column’s infrequent forays to Bootham Crescent came on October 3, 1995, a second leg League Cup tie against the mighty Man United.

The Yorkshire Evening Press, as then it was, produced a special supplement, though the editor still had to pay to get in like almost everybody else.

The column was a guest of InterCity, one of whose men claimed while demolishing a veritable Clifford’s Tower of chicken legs that he knew a lass called Victoria Station.

City led 3-0 from the first leg, trailed 2-0 after 12 minutes of the second, scored after 37 minutes, conceded again after 80 but held out until Jeff Winter’s euphoric final whistle and begged for Newcastle next round.

The column appeared two days later, shared with memories of big Albert Gaskell, a former first class cricket umpire from Northallerton and, it was said, the town’s best boozer.

Chris Lloyd had a piece in the same day’s paper, marking 35 years of Corrie – “the soap that’s still Streets ahead.”

City and United have never met since, currently seem unlikely to, but had faced one another in the second division in 1974-75. United won both. Their paths have since diverged.

Exactly a decade earlier, October 5, 1985, City had beaten Darlington 7-0 at Bootham Crescent. The biggest win since a 9-1 thrashing of Southport in 1957. The game’s recalled – “Crescent classic” – in last Saturday’s programme.

Tony Canham hit a hat-trick, Keith Walwyn – just three behind Norman Wilkinson in the scoring records – added two more. Darlington’s goalkeeper was Fred Barber, Ferryhill lad, who subsequently had lengthy spells with Walsall and Peterborough before becoming a goalkeeping coach and, a few years back, assistant manager at York.

Now 55, he also acquired a bit of a trademark. Whatever happened to Freddie Barber, the man in the mask?

Until manager Steve Watson’s arrival from Gateshead, City had gone 13 months without so much as back-to-back wins. Before the Altrincham game they’ve won four successively, conceded just once, talk trepidantly turning to the play-offs.

“You only have to look at Paris on Wednesday night (PSG against Man United) to see what can happen,” he writes in the programme – which also has a piece about tackling homelessness.

Mike Jones recalls high hopes at season’s start – “we were sure we’d be bouncing up as we moved” – Tom recalls a game at Spennymoor Town in the autumn when they lost 3-1.

“We’d had a bad run but I never thought I’d hear the sort of abuse that some of our supporters were hurling at the players. I was quite embarrassed.

“I think we’ve finally got a good manager, someone who can guide and mentor the younger players. If not this season, then next.”

The crowd’s 2,750, the age profile high, the weather lovely, the PA inaudible, the match indifferent When they can be heard above the blessed drum, the crowd at the Shipton Street end are chanting York-shire, lest anyone become disoriented.

An 83-minute goal gives the visitors deserved victory, York’s play-off prospects rapidly receding, crowd fast disappearing. Most will be back at Bootham in two weeks, and fortnightly until finally they can take a seat elsewhere.

For now it remans what football folk call a proper ground and it’s easy to see why they’ll miss its timeless charm. It’s right what they say about the netties, though.